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Gaudin feeling great, looking sharp

Gaudin feeling great, looking sharp

PHOENIX -- A's manager Bob Geren said early Wednesday morning that righty starter Chad Gaudin, recovering from right foot and left hip surgeries both performed on Dec. 18, was scheduled to throw batting practice for the first time later in the day.

Gaudin did indeed take the mound a few hours later on the back field at Phoenix Municipal Stadium, throwing to Chris Denorfia, Brooks Conrad and Todd Linden with non-roster catcher Justin Knoedler behind the plate, but he felt so good that the session morphed into a simulated game.

After throwing three 15-pitch "innings," Gaudin even put in some extra work with a few more pitches. Geren raved about the outing, pitching coach Curt Young essentially echoed Geren's enthusiasm before declaring Gaudin to be "right on schedule" for his projected regular season debut on April 12, and Gaudin himself seemed equally pleased.

"I felt good," Gaudin said, noting that he was throwing at "90 to 95 percent" effort. "It's about what I expected -- no better, no worse. My command was a little off, but that'll come. I'm not really stressing about anything at this point. I think everything's good."

So does Young, who said Gaudin's arm has been great from Day 1 of camp and added that the foot and hip "haven't been a factor."

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Gaudin threw the first two innings from behind a protective screen, telling the hitters what pitches were coming. For the third frame, the screen was removed, Gaudin stopped tipping off the hitters, and nobody at the plate looked particularly comfortable.

"I thought he threw the ball real well," Geren said. "We didn't have a [radar] gun on him, but his velocity looked real good, good movement, and he threw some good breaking balls. I think he's doing very well in general."

Asked about April 12, Gaudin, who is scheduled to make his only Cactus League appearance of the spring on March 17 at Phoenix Municipal against Kansas City, remained true to his offseason, post-surgery vow not to rush himself to meet any sort of timelines.

"I'm not getting ahead of myself," he said. "It's not like I'm pressing for it. I've got to make sure everything before that goes to plan. I have to look at [March] 17th first."

Gaudin added that while the A's are in Japan from March 19-26 to open the season against the Red Sox at the Tokyo Dome, he'll remain in Arizona to work at the Minor League complex before rejoining the team for the annual Bay Bridge preseason series from March 28-30.

Missing out on the Japan trip didn't seem to bother Gaudin much, in part because he was there with Tampa Bay at the start of the 2004 season.

"I know what it's like, so on that note, it's kind of a plus for me," he said. "The main thing is to get ready for the season, and the best way to do that is stay here and get work."

Mychael Urban is a national writer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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